There was a beckoning green light when I arrived at Gatsby’s Mayfair mansion on Wednesday for The Great Gatsby Immersive London. The night was tender, the drinks flowed, the conversation was titillating, and there was just the right glitter and glitz you’d expect from one of Gatsby’s infamous lawn parties.
This Great Gatsby production by Guild of Misrule has become the longest-running immersive theatre show in London, and there’s now an option to add a three-course dinner to your evening. So, before I headed into Gatsby’s decadent world, I was invited to have dinner with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda was chemically indisposed, so twelve of us spent an intimate hour with F. Scott in his library cum dining-room. He was a damn good host, even remembering my name and those of all his guests. He gin-swilled (a lot), served a few dishes to his guests and chatted to us about his new novel set in West and East Egg.
My daughter Eloise and I opted for the pescatarian, dairy-free menu: a smoked salmon and celeriac starter and a roasted fennel and crispy potato main course. Since Gatsby is obsessed with all things British, we finished with a Spotted Dick laced with candy floss and salted caramel, perfect for Anglophiles and custard-lovers all round. Drinks were extra with Prohibition-worthy bubbly and wines on offer.
After some engaging repartee, we said our goodbyes to F. Scott and jitterbugged over to the party next door. It was busy, as you would expect from the man whose parties are famously wild. We started by Charlestoning our way around the ballroom (thank goodness for the wine which gave me the liquid courage to strut my stuff). We also needed it to visit the all-gender loo: let’s just say it’s open to the elements.
The Great Gatsby Immersive production is unique for every audience member. Groups move from Gatsby’s grand ballroom to intimate spaces such as the host’s bedroom, the Wilsons’ apartment and Daisy’s boudoir. You’ll share secrets and gossip with the cast, and although you’re probably already a Gatsby aficionado, you can walk into the show without having read the book (but please, please do.)
It was a marathon evening for the cast who had to think quickly on their feet with plenty of improvisation. James Lawrence put in a worthy performance as narrator Nick Carraway, and Oliver Towse’s was a charming and suave Gatsby. The stars of the evening were the multi-talented Hannah Edwards as the sassy Myrtle Wilson and Tendai Humphrey Sitima as the cuckolded George. He was also a dab hand at tickling the ivories.
Every year, I fall in love, swoon and cry with my well-thumbed pages of The Great Gatsby. I despise the film adaptations, although I can’t quite hate the Baz Luhrmann version because, hey, it’s Baz. I was expecting to walk away from my immersive Gatsby experience with a certain amount of turn-your-nose-up disdain. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at this playful, droll and sympathetic immersive adaptation of America’s most-loved novel.
Ultimately, the power of The Great Gatsby is in the imagination. It’s just impossible to transcribe the sheer beauty of F Scott’s word from page to stage or screen. But The Great Gatsby Immersive pulls quite a few rabbits out of the hat. If you’re a Gatsby purist like me, leave your shoulder chips at home, kick up your heels, and join the party. You can be sure you’ll end up having a swell evening, old sport.
What to expect from your evening at The Great Gatsby Immersive London
There’s no need to get into a tizzy about the dress code. You can come as your flapper or dandy alter-ego, although it’s not compulsory. There’s a bar for those who get thirsty but you’re encouraged to go easy on the giggle water so you can enjoy the evening. Spare a thought for your feet: the show lasts two and half hours including an interval, and you’ll need to stand and walk around for much of the evening. There is, however, plenty of seating in the various locations, and we were even invited to sit on Jay’s bed. You can join in with the fun as often as you like, or you can just spectate.
Prices start at £29.95 for Great Gatsby Immersive London and £52.45 for the show and three-course dinner. You can book your tickets here.
I was a guest of Great Gatsby Immersive London. All views and opinions are my own.